The following meditation was shared with a group of people at First UMC of Pottsville, PA at the prayer service on October 24, 2009 following the murder/suicide of October 23rd. Our prayers continue to be with the people of Pottsville and our thanks to the pastors who supported Rev. Storm Hutchinson and Rev. Kris Perry. Thanks to Rev. Robert Wilt, District Superintendent of the NW District for his ministry as well.
“You are a hiding place for me, you preserve me from trouble, you surround me with songs of deliverance. Be glad in the Lord and rejoice O righteous! And shout for joy, all you upright in heart.”
Psalm 32: 7, 11
Psalm 32: 7, 11
I used to love the game “hide and go seek.” There were many interesting places to hide in my house growing up as a child. I was very good as finding the best places. One of them was in the attic in the closet where the winter clothes were stored. Another good place was the wooden bath tub in the basement. The room where coal used to be stored was also a good place. The point of this game was to not be found. When you had a very good hiding place you could always win the game.
With God as your hiding place you have the best place of all. David wrote this psalm when he was going through a time of sadness. Through it all he felt the overwhelming protection of God. The hymn “Rock of Ages” was written by a pastor who was caught in a thunderstorm while traveling on horseback through an open field. He hid in the cleft of a rock while the storm passed and he likened this rock to God, who protected him from all sin and trouble.
On October 23, the town of Pottsville experienced a sadness that was terrible and devastating. It was an irony that the troubled one was seeking refuge in a church in his last moments before he took his life. I wish that he had reached out to God for help. Today there is shock and sadness over all that has happened and yet there is hope.
God is our hiding place still! God is the one who saves us from trouble. God is the one who surrounds us with songs of deliverance. We don’t need to fear, we don’t need to worry. Just trust in the hiding place of God to keep you safe.
The Psalmist goes on to say that we should be glad in the Lord and rejoice. Perhaps that is the last thing you may be feeling right now. Being glad in the Lord during sad times is a sign of faith that we know we will ultimately be alright. We can praise God in spite of the circumstances.
We can be like a bird perched on a branch in a wind storm that is still singing. The bird can sing because it knows it can fly. If a gust of wind may knock him off his branch he can just lift his wings and fly and not fall to the ground. We can sing for joy in the midst of the storm because we know that in Christ was have another life waiting for us. Christ brings us a hope for the future and a peace that passes understanding now.
Bishop Peggy A. Johnson